International Development

As Christians on the Left, our faith leads us to stand up for the weak and the vulnerable in many ways. We are passionate about seeing our economy and our society transformed for the common good so that no-one is left behind. Our belief that all people share in God’s love equally, regardless of race, creed or nationality leads us to be concerned not just for the UK but for the disadvantaged right across our God’s world.

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God made us in love and seeks a relationship with us through his son Jesus. He calls us to reflect his love and justice in the way in which we relate to others. This means caring about poverty, oppression and human rights. If we truly believe that God’s love is universal, available to everyone regardless of race, creed or nationality, then we should care deeply about people all across the world. The thought that, according to the UN, 836 million people live in extreme poverty[1] and 795 million are undernourished[2] should distress everyone who believes in a God of justice who cares about his children.

In Isaiah 58, God makes it clear that his desire is ‘to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke’, saying that to honour him is ‘to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter’. This passage is echoed by Jesus in the famous words of Matthew 25, when he tells his people that when feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers and caring for the ill, ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’. We are called to love our neighbour, and this means we cannot walk on by while we see so much injustice and suffering in the world.

Sometimes it is hard to know how to respond to the problems we see. Many of us are motivated to give to charity, and we praise the work done by many charities (including but not limited to Christian organisations) in fighting hunger, poverty and disease across the globe. However, another hugely important way in which we can all contribute to the fight against such suffering is to spend public money on foreign aid.unrwa-pic-poverty.jpg

As one of the world’s richest countries, it is right that we all feel a moral duty to help those in less developed parts of the world. A strong government commitment to international development spending not only enshrines this principle in our national consciousness, but it provides an opportunity to ensure aid money is spend effectively and efficiently on long-term investment projects, with the Independent Commission with Aid Impact monitoring UK aid spending[3].

We are faced with gross injustice and inequality around the world. As Christians, we should be among active voices calling for strong action on these problems. Charity is good, but government commitment to international development is both a hugely valuable way to unlock economic and social opportunities for millions and a strong signal of our priorities as a society. At its best, a government abroad uses diplomacy, security work and international development to work with other countries to alleviate poverty and help countries build their economies for the future, bringing about a transformation of the life chances of many. International development spending is an indispensable part of this mix.

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We are pleased that the government has committed to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development, and want to ensure that this commitment remains in place. While Labour is fully committed to this target, we are concerned by what appears to be a threat in the Conservative manifesto to water the target down by changing internationally agreed definitions. Such a step, if carried out, would be a worrying sign that international aid is not a priority for the UK. That cannot be a message we want to send to the world.

As Christians, we are told to ‘act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God’ (Micah 6:8). This means caring for the neediest people across the world as a matter of urgency and priority. That is why Christians on the Left is so committed to international development.

Speaking to ActionAid recently, our executive member Heather Staff made a passionate case in support of international development, with further thoughts on British foreign aid and the election. Click here to read what she had to say.

Please also see resources from our colleagues in the Labour Campaign for International Development, as well as election coverage from Bond, Christian Aid and Churches Together.



[3] please visit http://icai.independent.gov.uk/ for more, including reports on the efficiency of aid spending

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